Eating for skin health
skin food omegas
Nuts and seeds are a healthy food source for omega-3 fatty acids and can also provide the small amount of omega-6 that we need.
Omega-3’s keep your skin supple and moisturised by supporting collagen and elastin production. They also support heart and bone health, fight inflammation, support mental health and reduce liver fat. Omega-6 needs to be taken in smaller amounts as in high amounts (through trans fats & animal fats) it becomes pro-inflammatory. However it is still an important amino acid to gain from good oils, with studies revealing that it is useful in the treatment of chronic diseases.
Customise your own skin food mix from 4 on the list below, lightly pan fry to release the aromatic oils and store in a glass jar. Add it to your organic oats for a brain food breakfast and sprinkle over your rice dish or baked veggies for extra protein and a boost for your skin health.
flax seeds with their rich oil inclusion can reduce your immune response to irritants as well as attract water to skin cells to plump the skin and reduce wrinkles. Studies show that ½ a teaspoon a day over 6 weeks will lead to better skin hydration and reduced redness through building cellular health at the skin barrier level.
almonds actually are a seed not a nut! When the almond’s vitamin E is absorbed by your body, its antioxidant action helps protect your skin cells from UV light and the environmental factors that generate cell-damaging free radicals. About 20 almonds a day will achieve this.
black and white sesame seeds are rich in calcium (more per cup than dairy products can provide), and iron, folate and magnesium. Sesame is a mineral rich balanced nutritional food. Ultra high in omega-3 and 6, these linoleic fatty acids support the skin structure to balance the loss of moisture and elasticity that occurs with ageing. Black sesame seeds (when lightly pan fried to release their oils) are stronger at targeting skin hydration than white sesame.
walnuts contain high levels of omega-3 and vitamin E. These nuts will smooth skin, build up resistance to sun exposure and nourish the bones and hair. The Vitamin E in this nutrient form helps preserve elastin, the protein that keeps your skin smooth and tight. In Chinese medicine we prescribe them to treat dark shadowing under the eyes. And don’t remove the skin surrounding the fleshy nut as important nutrition is found in the skins.
brazil nuts contain the trace element selenium that is absent in Australian soils. This mineral protects the skin from the cellular damage of sun exposure.
seasonal skin food inclusions
Each season pop a list on your fridge of the foods listed below that nourish your skin and are available in that season or suited to your cooking style. Try and include them each day in your diet. Improving our health is often mostly about reminding ourselves to create positive habits.
spinach and leafy greens from organic sources contain high levels of nutrients and antioxidants. Spinach is loaded with lutein and vitamins B, C, and E, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. The water content in combination with its nutrients will penetrate cell membranes to prevent dehydration and plump out the skin. The folate in spinach may help repair damaged DNA, making it a cancer prevention food and an import food in pre-conception care. Organic spinach is like a vitamin pill in its nutrient levels and contains more plant iron than conventionally farmed spinach.
sunflower and safflower oil provide linoleum acid – the fatty acid that helps create the soft outer layer of skin cells. Even skin receiving lots of hydration can give the appearance of cracking and dryness. This is usually due to a lack of linoleic acid. The omega-6 fatty acids found in these oils can bring moisture to dry, itchy and flaking skin by keeping the cell walls supple and allowing water to better penetrate the skin. As a gauge, about 10 % of your daily calorie intake should comprise the good oils.
idea: rotate your oils by including organic GM free Soybean or Corn oil to ensure nutrient diversity in your diet. Observe how your skin and hair texture is after periods of different oil inclusions to understand which oil is best for your skin and health.
chia seeds are packed with protein, zinc, magnesium and iron. They benefit the heart, digestion and skin and are easy to include as a breakfast pudding, in a smoothie or into snack bars. They are an essential smart food.
chickpeas are a starring legume that can reduce scarring and dark marks from scratches and wounds. Its particular protein delivers the amino acid combination essential to tissue repair. Think hummus with lunch each day or add chickpeas into your veggie curries.
kiwi fruit is also known as Chinese gooseberry and contains omega-3 and vitamin C to keep skin firm and prevent wrinkles. Packed with antioxidants, kiwis are a potential cancer cell prevention food. Their Vitamin K content promotes bone density and with its host of other lovely nutrients that supports good health, is a tasty seasonal fruit inclusion.
tomatoes are probably the best source of the anti-aging antioxidant called lycopene. This phytochemical is what gives tomatoes their red colour. It helps eliminate skin-aging free radicals caused by exposure to UV rays. The body can more easily absorb lycopene via cooked fresh tomatoes.
idea: watermelon is a good switch for lycopene support during the hot summer months. Particularly its white edge has strong heat clearing qualities and can treat sunstroke.
apricots contain the Vitamin A that our body converts to retinol, (a cellular compound that supports new cell production and prevents wrinkles.) Eat the fruit, dress salads with the oil or apply the oil to damp skin for a vitamin A boost to benefit your skin.
carrots are full of beta-carotene that provides us with Vitamin A, this antioxidant supports healthy cells at the skins outer layers. Vitamin A stops the overproduction of skin cells. When the epidermal cells die and combine with sebum they clog pores. So carrot is the medicine for healthy skin if you experience break outs.
sweet potato is a suitable switch with carrot. Additionally it provides vitamin C to smooth out wrinkles by supporting collagen production. (And clinically proven!)
dark Chocolate with 60% cacao content will ensure that the flavanol content can protect the skin from sun damage and build hydration to the cells. You only need 2 small pieces each each day though! Read the ingredients listing to ensure it contains no dairy or sugar as this is counter productive to your healthy skin.
green tea the ultimate antioxidant and able to increase skin elasticity. 2-4 cups per day of warm tea can neutralise the effects of sun-exposed skin. Its catechins have an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer action and will clear heat and redness from the skin.
Out of the kitchen and onto your skin
green tea is full of catechin antioxidants and so able to reduce skin inflammation. Rinse your face in cool green tea before bed as an overnight skin soother. Activate your facial clay masks with it.
avocado is rich in lipids and an excellent moisturizer. You can mash and whip your avocado to make a nourishing face mask. Choose a very ripe avocado, mash it well and apply to your freshly exfoliated face. Lie down and elevate your feet for 20 mins to allow the oils to penetrate. Rinse off.
oatmeal is the humble food with anti-inflammatory and anti-wrinkle properties that softens the skin. Massage organic oat flour onto your skin as an exfoliant while under the shower. Mix oat flour with green tea and olive oil for a silken, skin soothing face mask. Sprinkle the flour into your bath to nourish your body. Wrap up some oats in a muslin cloth and use it to wash sensitive or young skin rather than use harsh soaps.
yogurt & honey mixed into a face mask and applied for 15mins is a natural lactic exfoliant and skin softener combination. Add a pinch of turmeric to enhance its active properties to rejuvenate your skin when it looks tired and sallow.
seaweed is a nutrient dense food that benefits the skin topically as well as from the inside out. Eating nori sheets as sushi or making miso soup with Kun Bu or Arame seaweeds, plumps the skin and clears heat and inflammation. You can cut the nori sheets into strips, lie it on a plate and soak it with green tea, then lie the strips across the face and décolletage to nourish, soothe and plump the skin.
papaya (paw paw) can be used when in season as an enzyme mask that decongests, soothes and leaves your skin feeling lush. Thoroughly mash the flesh and apply this to your skin for 20-40mins. It is packed with phyto-nutrients that target the skin and has strong anti-inflammatory properties. It’s delicious with a squeeze of lime to benefit your skin from the inside out.
olive oil is the staple to smooth out dry skin patches. Apply it to damp skin on your target area for fast penetration.